It’s important to think about what you are grateful for in your life. If this isn’t a daily habit, the holiday season is a good time for reflection.
During Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, we’re often asked to pause and count our many blessings. It’s the season of goodwill, after all, a time to reflect on good fortune and be reminded of the plight of those in need. But why not make gratitude a habit all year round? Doctors, psychologists, counselors, and religious leaders, all tout the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of gratitude. All it costs is a few minutes of daily reflection to improve your well-being and happiness. And you may even bring more joy to the world in the process. Here are just some of the benefits of gratitude.
Gratitude Improves Mental Health
Many of us dwell on what we don’t have or complain about the things we haven’t done. Toxic emotions, like regret, frustration, and jealousy are widespread in our society, bombarded as we are with social media posts and countless ads. So don’t let yourself sink into that hole. Instead, turn it around, stop comparing your life to others’ and shift your focus back on yourself. What do you have to be grateful for in your life? Look at all the good things you do have –right now. Then take a few minutes each day to express gratitude for all these blessings. You’ll find anxiety and worry tend to melt away when you remind yourself of your good fortune and drop the stress-inducing emotions of negativity, fear, and regret.
Gratitude Can Improve Physical Health
Studies show that grateful people -those who have dropped negativity and regret and have made gratitude into a daily ritual -tend to also experience better physical health. When you’re grateful for your blessings and content with your current lot in life, you’re more likely to engage in healthy lifestyle choices like daily exercise and good nutrition, and you may even sleep better. You will also worry less and be more present, instead of traveling back into the past, obsessing about all your mistakes! Be kind to yourself and don’t do that anymore.
Just saying a simple “thank you” can improve relationships, not only with your immediate family and friends but also out in the wider world. It doesn’t take much effort to show a bit of appreciation and the rewards are tenfold. And if you’re a parent you lead by example. If someone holds the door for you, a simple thank you could make their day. And why not be specific about your appreciation, by telling your restaurant server thank you for going the extra mile to accommodate a picky eater, and that you love her smile. It costs nothing to be nice and thankful, well maybe a bit extra on the tip for that waitress!
Establishing a Daily Gratitude Ritual Benefits All
Lastly, how about establishing a daily ritual –a gratitude session for the whole family or with your kids, or even just by yourself before going to sleep. You can make it a mealtime ritual, where each family member expresses gratitude for one thing in his or her life or something good that happened that day. You can also make it a part of the going-to-bed ritual with your kids, with a back and forth “I’m grateful for…” game. You just can’t go wrong with gratitude and it only costs a few minutes out of your day. So, what are you grateful for? Make a gratitude list, say it out loud at dinner, post it on Facebook; tell everyone in your life what you’re thankful for today. Go out and be grateful and happy and watch as your life –and other people’s lives around you –improve! Happy Holidays ya’ll!